PEDAGOGY of the
• 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION •
Translated by Myra Bergman Ramos
With an Introduction by Donaldo Macedo
A continuum • I f N E W Y O R K • L O N D O N
The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc 15 East 26,h Street, New York, NY 10010
The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SE1 7NX
Copyright © 1970, 1993 by Paulo Freire Introduction © 2000 by Donaldo Macedo
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Freire, Paulo, 1921- [Pedagogia del oprimido. English] Pedagogy of the oppressed / Paulo Freire ; translated by Myra
Bergman Ramos ; introduction by Donaldo Macedo.—30th anniversary ed. p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-8264-1276-9 (alk. paper) 1. Freire, Paulo, 1921- 2. Education—Philosophy. 3. Popular
education—Philosophy. 4. Critical pedagogy. I. Title.
LB880.F73 P4313 2000 370.11*5—dc21 00-030304
To the oppressed, and to those who suffer with them and fight at their side
While the problem of humanization has always, from an axiological point of view, been humankind's central problem, it now takes on the character of an inescapable concern.l Concern for humanization leads at once to the recognition of dehumanization, not only as an ontological possibility but as an historical reality And as an individual perceives the extent of dehu- manization, he or she rtiay ask if humanization is a viable possibility. Within history^ in concrete, objective contexts, both humanization and dehumanization are possibilities for a person as an uncompleted being conscious of their incompletion.
But while both humanization and dehumanization are real alter- natives, only the first is the people's vocation. This vocation is con- stantly negated, yet it is affirmed by that very negation. It is
1. The current movements of rebellion, especially those of youth, while they necessarily reflect the peculiarities of their respective settings, manifest in their essence this preoccupation with people as beings in the world and with the world— preoccupation with what and how they are "being." As they place consumer civiliza tion in judgment, denounce bureaucracies of all types, demand the transformation of the universities (changing the rigid nature of the teacher-student relationship and placing that relationship within the context of reality), propose the transformation of reality itself so that universities can be renewed, attack old orders and established institutions in the attempt to affirm human beings as the Subjects of decision, all these movements reflect the style of our age, which is more anthropological than anthropocentric.
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thwarted by injustice, exploitation, oppression, and the violence of the oppressors; it is affirmed by the yearning of the oppressed for freedom and justice, and by their struggle to recover their lost hu manity.
Dehumanization, which marks not only those whose humanity has been stolen, but also (though in a different way) those who have stolen it, is a distortion of the vocation of becoming more fully human. This distortion occurs within history; but it is not an histori cal vocation. Indeed, to admit of dehumanization as an historical vocation would lead either to cynicism or total despair. The struggle for humanization, for the emancipation of labor, for the overcoming of alienation, for the affirmation of men and women as persons would be meaningless. This struggle is possible only because dehumaniza tion, although a concrete historical fact, is not a given destiny but the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppres sors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed.
Because it is a distortion of being more fully human, sooner or later being less human leads the oppressed to struggle against those who made them so. In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both.
This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the op pressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the op pressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both. Any attempt to "soften" the power of the oppressor in deference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifests itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this. In order to have the continued opportunity to express their "generosity," the oppressors must perpetuate injustice as well. An unjust social order is the permanent fount of this "generosity," which is nourished by death, despair, and poverty. That is why the dispensers of false gen erosity become desperate at the slightest threat to its source.
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True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the "rejects of life," to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands—whether of individ uals or entire peoples—need be extended less and less in supplica tion, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world.
This lesson and this apprenticeship must come, however, from the oppressed themselves and from those who are truly solidary with them. As individuals or as peoples, by fighting for the restoration of their humanity they will be attempting the restoration of true generosity. Who are better prepared than the oppressed to under stand the terrible significance of an oppressive society? Who suffer the eflFects of oppression more than the oppressed? Who can better understand the necessity of liberation? They will not gain this libera tion by chance but through the praxis of their quest for it, through their recognition of the necessity to fight for it. And this fight, be cause of the purpose given it by the oppressed, will actually consti tute an act of love opposing the lovelessness which lies at the heart of the oppressors violence, lovelessness even when clothed in false generosity.
But almost always, during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to be come oppressors, or "sub-oppressors." The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity. This phenomenon derives from the fact that the oppressed, at a certain moment of their existential experience, adopt an attitude of "adhesion" to the oppressor. Under these circum stances they cannot "consider" him sufficiently clearly to objectivize him—to discover him "outside" themselves. This does not necessar ily mean that the oppressed are unaware that they are downtrodden. But their perception of themselves as oppressed is impaired by their submersion in the reality of oppression. At this level, their perception of themselves as opposites of the oppressor does not yet
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signify engagement in a struggle to overcome the contradiction;2 the one pole aspires not to liberation, but to identification with its oppo- site pole.
In this situation the oppressed do not see the "new man" as the person to be born from the resolution of this contradiction, as op- pression gives way to liberation. For them, the new man or woman themselves become oppressors. Their vision of the new man or woman is individualistic; because of their identification with the oppressor, they have no consciousness of themselves as persons or as members of an oppressed class. It is not to become free that they want agrarian reform, but in order to acquire land and thus become landowners—or, more precisely, bosses over other workers. It is a rare peasant who, once "promoted" to overseer, does not become more of a tyrant towards his former comrades than the owner him- self. This is because the context of the peasant's situation, that is, oppression, remains unchanged. In this example, the overseer, in order to make sure of his job, must be as tough as the owner—and more so. Thus is illustrated our previous assertion that during the initial stage of their struggle the oppressed find in the oppressor their model of "manhood."
Even revolution, which transforms a concrete situation of oppres- sion by establishing the process of liberation, must confront this phenomenon. Many of the oppressed who directly or indirectly par- ticipate in revolution intend—conditioned by the myths of the old order—to make it their private revolution. The shadow of their for- mer oppressor is still cast over them.
The "fear of freedom" which afflicts the oppressed,3 a fear which may equally well lead them to desire the role of oppressor or bind them to the role of oppressed, should be examined. One of the basic elements of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed is
2. As used throughout this book, the term "contradiction" denotes the dialectical conflict between opposing social forces.—Translator s note.
3. This fear of freedom is also to be found in the oppressors, though, obviously, in a different form. The oppressed are afraid to embrace freedom; the oppressors are afraid of losing the "freedom" to oppress.
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prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual's choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed to into one that conforms with the pre servers consciousness. Thus, the behavior of the oppressed is a prescribed behavior, following as it does the guidelines of the op pressor.
The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility. Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human com pletion.
To surmount the situation of oppression, people must first criti cally recognize its causes, so that through transforming action they can create a new situation, one which makes possible the pursuit of a fuller humanity. But the struggle to be more fully human has already begun in the authentic struggle to transform the situation. Although the situation of oppression is a dehumanized and dehu manizing totality affecting both the oppressors and those whom they oppress, it is the latter who must, from their stifled humanity, wage for both the struggle for a fuller humanity; the oppressor, who is himself dehumanized because he dehumanizes others, is unable to lead this struggle.
However, the oppressed, who have adapted to the structure of domination in which they are immersed, and have become resigned to it, are inhibited from waging the struggle for freedom so long as they feel incapable of running the risks it requires. Moreover, their struggle for freedom threatens not only the oppressor, but also their own oppressed comrades who are fearful of still greater repression. When they discover within themselves the yearning to be free, they perceive that this yearning can be transformed into reality only when the same yearning is aroused in their comrades. But while dominated by the fear of freedom they refuse to appeal to others,
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or to listen to the appeals of others, or even to the appeals of their own conscience. They prefer gregariousness to authentic comrade ship; they prefer the security of conformity with their state of unfree- dom to the creative communion produced by freedom and even the very pursuit of freedom.
The oppressed suffer from the duality which has established itself in their innermost being. They discover that without freedom they cannot exist authentically. Yet, although they desire authentic exis tence, they fear it. They are at one and the same time themselves and the oppressor whose consciousness they have internalized The conflict lies in the choice between being wholly themselves or being divided; between ejecting the oppressor within or not ejecting them; between human solidarity or alienation; between following prescriptions or having choices; between being spectators or actors; between acting or having the illusion of acting through the action of the oppressors; between speaking out or being silent, castrated in their power to create and re-create, in their power to transform the world. This is the tragic dilemma of the oppressed which their education must take into account.
This book will present some aspects of what the writer has termed the pedagogy of the oppressed, a pedagogy which must be forged with, not for, the oppressed (whether individuals or peoples) in the incessant struggle to regain their humanity. This pedagogy makes oppression and its causes objects of reflection by the oppressed, and from that reflection will come their necessary engagement in the struggle for their liberation. And in the struggle this pedagogy will be made and remade.
The central problem is this: How can the oppressed, as divided, unauthentic beings, participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation? Only as they discover themselves to be "hosts" of the oppressor can they contribute to the midwifery of their liberating pedagogy. As long as they live in the duality in which to be is to be like, and to be like is to be like the oppressor, this contribution is impossible. The pedagogy of the oppressed is an instrument for their critical discovery that both they and their oppressors are mani festations of dehumanization.
A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamentally narrative character. This relationship involves a nar rating Subject (the teacher) and patient, listening objects (the students). The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process of being narrated to become lifeless and petrified. Education is suffering from narration sickness.
The teacher talks about reality as if it were motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable. Or else he expounds on a topic completely alien to the existential experience of the students. His task is to "fill" the students with the contents of his narration— contents which are detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance. Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alien ated, and alienating verbosity.
The outstanding characteristic of this narrative education, then, is the sonority of words, not their transforming power. "Four times four is sixteen; the capital of Para is Belem." The student records, memorizes, and repeats these phrases without perceiving what four times four really means, or realizing the true significance of "capital" in the affirmation "the capital of Para is Belem," that is, what Belem means for Pard and what Para means for Brazil.
Narration (with the teacher as narrator) leads the students to
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memorize mechanically the narrated content. Worse yet, it turns them into "containers," into "receptacles" to be "filled" by the teacher. The more completely she fills the receptacles, the better a teacher she is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are.
Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the stu- dents are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes de- posits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the "banking" concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. They do, it is true, have the opportunity to become collectors or cataloguers of the things they store. But in the last analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system. For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.
In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology)of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry. The teacher pre- sents himself to his students as their necessary opposite; by consid- ering their ignorance absolute, he- justifies his own existence. The students, alienated like the slave in the Hegelian dialectic, accept their ignorance as justifying the teachers existence—but, unlike the slave, they never discover that they educate the teacher.
The raison d'etre of libertarian education, on the other hand, lies in its drive towards reconciliation. Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students.
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This solution is not (nor can it be) found in the banking concept. On the contrary, banking education maintains and even stimulates the contradiction through the following attitudes and practices, which mirrOr oppressive society as a whole:
(a) the teacher teaches and the students are taught; (b) the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing; (c) the teacher thinks and the students are thought about; (d) the teacher talks and the students listen—meekly; (e) the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined; (f) the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students
comply; (g) the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting
through the action of the teacher; (h) the teacher chooses the program content, and the students
(who were not consulted) adapt to it; (i) the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or
her own professional authority, which she and he sets in oppo sition to the freedom of the students;
(j) the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects.
It is not surprising that the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable, manageable beings. The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world. The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them.
The capability of banking education to minimize or annul the students creative power and to stimulate their credulity serves the interests of the oppressors, who care neither to have the world re vealed nor to see it transformed. The oppressors use their "humani- tarianism" to preserve a profitable situation. Thus they react almost instinctively against any experiment in education which stimulates
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the critical faculties and is not content with a partial view of reality but always seeks out the ties which link one point to another and one problem to another.
Indeed, the interests of the oppressors lie in "changing the con- sciousness of the oppressed, not the situation which oppresses them";1 for the more the oppressed can be led to adapt to that situation, the more easily they can be dominated. To achieve this end, the oppressors use the banking concept of education in con- junction with a paternalistic social action apparatus, within which the oppressed receive the euphemistic title of "welfare recipients." They are treated as individual cases, as marginal persons who devi- ate from the general configuration of a "good, organized, and just" society. The oppressed are regarded as the pathology of the healthy society, which must therefore adjust these "incompetent and lazy" folk to its own patterns by changing their mentality. These marginals need to be "integrated," "incorporated" into the healthy society that they have "forsaken."
The truth is, however, that the oppressed are not "marginals," are not people living "outside" society. They have always been "inside"—inside the structure which made them "beings for others." The solution is not to "integrate" them into the structure of oppres- sion, but to transform that structure so that they can become "beings for themselves." Such transformation, of course, would undermine the oppressors purposes; hence their utilization of the banking con- cept of education to avoid the threat of student cpnscientizagdo.
The banking approach to adult education, for example, will never propose to students that they critically consider reality. It will deal instead with such vital questions as whether Roger gave green grass to the goat, and insist upon the importance of learning that, on the contrary, floger gave green grass to the rabbit. The "humanism" of the banking approach masks the effort to turn women and men into automatons—the very negation of their ontological vocation to be more fully human.
1. Simone de Beauvoir, La Pensee de Droite, Aujord'hui (Paris); ST, El Pensami- ento politico de la Derecha (Buenos Aires, 1963), p. 34.
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Those who use the banking approach, knowingly or unknowingly (for there are innumerable well-intentioned bank-clerk teachers who do not realize that they are serving only to dehumanize), fail to perceive that the deposits themselves contain contradictions about reality. But, sooner or later, these contradictions may lead formerly passive students to turn against their domestication and the attempt to domesticate reality. They may discover through existential experi ence that their present way of life is irreconcilable with their voca tion to become fully human. They may perceive through their relations with reality that reality is really a process, undergoing constant transformation. If men and women are searchers and their ontological vocation is humanization, sooner or later they may per ceive the contradiction in which banking education seeks to main tain them, and then engage themselves in the struggle for their liberation.
But the humanist, revolutionary educator cannot wait for this pos sibility to materialize. From the outset, her efforts must coincide with those of the students to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanization. His efforts must be imbued with a profqund trust in people and their creative power. To achieve this, they must be partners of the students in their relations with them.
The banking concept does not admit to such partnership—and necessarily so. To resolve the teacher-student contradiction, to ex change the role of depositor, prescriber, domesticator, for the role of student among students would be to undermine the power of oppression and serve the cause of liberation.
Implicit in the banking concept is Uie assumption of a dichotomy between human beings and the world: a person is merely in the world, not with the world or with others; the individual is spectator, not re-creator. In this view, the person is not a conscious being (corpo consciente); he or she is rather the possessor of a conscious ness: an empty "mind" passively open to the reception of deposits of reality from the world outside. For example, my desk, my books, my coffee cup, all the objects before me—as bits of the world which surround me—would be "inside" me, exactly as I am inside my
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study right now. This view makes no distinction between being ac- cessible to consciousness and entering consciousness. The distinc- tion, however, is essential: the objects which surround me are simply accessible to my consciousness, not located within it. I am aware of them, but they are not inside me.
It follows logically from the banking notion of consciousness that the educator s role is to regulate the way the world "enters into" the students. The teachers task is to organise a process which already occurs spontaneously, to "fill" the students by making deposits of information which he or she considers to constitute true knowledge.2
And since people "receive" the world as passive entities, education should make them more passive still, and adapt them to the world. The educated individual is the adapted person, because she or he is better "fit" for the world. Translated into practice, this concept is well suited to the purposes of the oppressors, whose tranquility rests on how well people fit the world the oppressors have created, and how little they question it.
The more completely the majority adapt to the purposes which the dominant minority prescribe for them (thereby depriving them of the right to their own purposes), the more easily the minority can continue to prescribe. The theory and practice of banking education serve this end quite efficiently. Verbalistic lessons, reading require- ments,3 the methods for evaluating "knowledge," the distance be- tween the teacher and the taught, the criteria, for promotion: everything in this ready-to-wear approach serves to obviate thinking.
The bank-clerk educator does not realize that there is no true security in his hypertrophied role, that one must seek to live with others in solidarity. One cannot impose oneself, nor even merely
2. This concept corresponds to what Sartre calls the "digestive" or "nutritive" concept of education, in which knowledge is "fed" by the teacher to the students to "fill them out." See Jean-Paul Sartre, "Une idee fundamentale de la phenomeno- logie de Husserl: L'intentionalite," Situations I (Paris, 1947).
3. For example, some professors specify in their reading lists that a book should be read from pages 10 to 15—and do this to "help" their students!
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co-exist with one's students. Solidarity requires true communica tion, and the concept by which such an educator is guided fears and proscribes< communication.
Yet only through communication can human life hold meaning. The teachers thinking is authenticated only by the authenticity of the students thinking. The teacher cannot think for her students, nor can she impose her thought on them. Authentic thinking, think ing that is concerned about reality, does not take place in ivory tower isolation, but only in communication. If it is true that thought has meaning only when generated by action upon the world, the subordination of students to teachers becomes impossible.
Because banking education begins with a false understanding of men and women as objects, it cannot promote the development of what Fromm calls "biophily," but instead produces its opposite: "necrophily."
While life is characterized by growth in a structured, functional manner, the necrophilous person loves all that does not grow, all that is mechanical. The necrophilous person is driven by the desire to transform the organic into the inorganic, to approach life mechanically, as if all living persons were things. . . . Mem ory, rather than experience; having, rather than being, is what counts. The necrophilous person can relate to an object—a flower or a person—only if he possesses it; …